Several Deaths After Consumption Of Romaine Lettuce

Bacteria may be present in some of our foods. The green salad is no exception to the rule. These bacteria can be caused by poor hygiene of...

Bacteria may be present in some of our foods. The green salad is no exception to the rule. These bacteria can be caused by poor hygiene of our hands, the utensils of our kitchens or the soil in which we grow our vegetables. Some pathogenic bacteria can grow on raw foods, including green salad. Escherichia Coli (E. Coli) is the most dangerous and deadly.

Several Deaths After Consumption Of Romaine Lettuce

Each year, an outbreak caused by the bacteria Escherichia Coli causes gastric and intestinal diseases that can degenerate in some subjects, including pregnant women, young children, the elderly and people with weak immune system. In France, 69 cases of poisoning were recorded in 2005. According to Simon Hello, bacteriologist and co-head of the National Reference Center of Escherichia Coli at the Institut Pasteur (Paris), this bacterium lives in the environment and in the intestinal flora of all mammals. However, there is one type of E. Coli considered as pathogenic for the human being, existing in particular in the intestine of the cattle.

In the United States, this bacteria even killed five people who consumed romaine lettuce. Other cases of contamination with this bacteria have been reported in North Carolina, Arkansas and Oklahoma and required hospitalization. Although preventive measures were taken by destroying the entire infected supply in order to protect the population, there were still Roman lettuces on supermarket shelves.

E. Coli and source of contamination

E. coli is transmissible to humans through contaminated food such as raw or undercooked meat or other contaminated and poorly cleaned vegetables, including lettuce. This contamination of this vegetable is most often associated with direct contact with feces from cattle; Romaine lettuce growing very close to the ground, sees its risk of contamination increase by manure-based organic fertilizers. The risk is even higher when lettuce is grown in the vicinity with beef pastures. This bacterium lives naturally in the intestines of cattle and other animals. As a result, all fruits and vegetables contacted by infected manure can be contaminated.

Symptoms of infection with E. coli coli

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the incubation time is two to eight days before seeing the symptoms of this infection appear. Contamination can occur either by direct contact with the bacteria or by close contact with a contaminated person. The symptoms of this infection are defined by:
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomitings
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Haemorrhagic colitis
  • Infection with E. Coli and impact on the body

Some people can recover quickly while others may suffer or even die. The toxins released by the bacteria destroy the lining of the blood vessels and thus cause coagulation and arterial hypertension. In some cases, the spread of these toxins can reach renal function and a consequent decrease in red blood cells. Other cases of neurological complications may also be recorded, possibly leading to a comatose state. However, when bloody diarrhea occurs, accompanied by severe abdominal pain, emergency medical consultation is required.

General preventive measures

First of all, during slaughter, sanitary rules must be respected so that the bacteria present in cattle is not transmitted to the meat. Subsequently, it is essential to observe hygiene rules in the preparation of food to reduce the risk of infection with E. coli bacteria. Thus, to destroy the bacteria and prevent their proliferation, it is necessary:
  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching food.
  • Clean all cooking utensils and the kitchen worktop, preferably with a natural disinfectant such as white vinegar and baking soda.
  • Avoid touching other doubtful objects while preparing meals.
  • Cook the food well until the temperature reaches 70 ° C.
  • Thoroughly wash the foods that will be eaten raw in white vinegar.
  • Separate raw foods from cooked foods.
  • Avoid consumption of raw milk cheese

Preventive measures on lettuce
  • Wash the leaves of the lettuce with fresh water, mixed with white vinegar.
  • Rinse the lettuce leaves until no more dirt.
  • Do not keep lettuce more than 7 days in the refrigerator

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